Seven regular season games are scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Saturday, October 20
Time: 4:30 PM (4:30 MSK)
Place: Falcon Club, Minsk, Belarus
Tsmoki-Minsk: The Minsk Dragons hope for a better result on Saturday, after beginning the season with back-to-back losses at home. Nizhny is also 0-2, plus the Russian club played in the Champions League earlier this week. One of Tsmoki’s stars last season, Chris Czerapowicz, signed with Nizhny over the summer, but won’t be able to play in his old arena due to an injury.
Nizhny Novgorod: Despite the loss to CSKA and serious roster issues (Czerapowicz isn’t the only one with an injury: Maxim Grigoryev and Pavel Antipov are out for the season), Zoran Lukic said he left the gym following the game vs. CSKA with his head held high. Nizhny Novgorod tested CSKA on the road for 40 minutes, then breezed past Anvil in the Champions League. On Saturday, Nizhny will be looking to pick up their first win in the League.
Time: 5:00 PM (5:00 MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Krasnodar, Russia
TV: VTB-League.com, Match Arena
Lokomotiv-Kuban: Krasnodar has been busy this week, suffering a brutal loss to UNICS, before crushing Tofas in the EuroCup. Sasa Obradovic was satisfied after the game vs. the Turkish club, saying that Loko played like a team, which means VEF could be in trouble. VEF has not defeated Lokomotiv since 2015, when Nikolajs Mazurs was coach.
VEF: After opening the season with two losses, Riga is stuck in last place. It’s too early to draw many conclusions, but the Riga certainly has issues on offense, especially the shooting percentage. For example, in the loss to PARMA, VEF made only half of its free throws. Facing a defensive powerhouse in Loko, where almost every look is contested, the visitors could be in more trouble.
Time: 6:30 PM (5:30 MSK)
Place: Kristall Sports Palace, Saratov, Russia
Avtodor: After losing to UNICS, Saratov took some emergency measures, signing Anthony Ireland at point guard. Vladimir Rodionov noted that bringing in the experienced playmaker from Lithuania will help take pressure off starting point guard Trae Golden. Prior to Ireland’s signing, Avtodor was able to secure its first win of the season, taking down Ironi Israel in the FIBA Europe Cup.
Enisey: Two consecutive games vs. last season’s finalists was not the best way to gauge Enisey’s potential. Oleg Okulov agreed, saying the game vs. PARMA would be a much better indicator. Well, the Siberians passed the with flying colors, defeating Perm in a close game. Now Enisey takes on a more ambitious opponent. Both teams have struggled with turnovers. Avtodor coughed up the ball 20 times vs. UNICS, while Enisey is averaging more than 17 per game. Whichever team can take better advantage of the miscues may have a significant edge.
Time: 6:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Kazan, Russia
UNICS: Kazan is undefeated in the United League and EuroCup, where they defeated Torino on Wednesday. The team’s new signings have had an early impact: Errick McCollum, who was huge in the win over Loko, dropped 15 points on Torino, while Raymar Morgan led the way with 25, despite struggling so far in the League. The two Americans should give Dimitris Priftis extra options on offense as the Russians prepare to face the Polish newcomers.
Zielona Gora: The Poles are 4th in the standings thanks to a season-opening win. Everything could change on Saturday, but no one can take away their perfect start. Zielona Gora’s veteran squad, led by Boris Savovic, dictated the tempo vs. Tsmoki-Minsk and buried the Dragons with three-point shooting. Of course, now they face a much stiffer challenge. UNICS has allowed fewer than 70 points per game and should bring similar effort again on Saturday.
Sunday, October 21
Time: 3:00 PM (12:00 MSK)
Place: SC Velotrek, Astana, Kazakhstan
Astana: Astana shocked Zenit last season, storming to a 23-point win. It was a huge victory for the Kazakh club as it kept their playoff hopes alive. The circumstances are not as extreme on Sunday, but Astana would be happy for a repeat. A year ago, Astana was able to take advantage of an injury to Zenit big man Drew Gordon with Ike Udanoh dominating in the paint. On Sunday, Zenit will once again be without several key players, perhaps opening the door to another upset.
Zenit: One of the few positive moments for Zenit last week was the win over Trento in the EuroCup. Otherwise, it’s been a rough start to the season, going beyond the losses to Loko and Partizan. Zenit has been plagued by injuries, including knocks to Sergey Karasev and Brandon Jennings. Luckily, they won’t be out for long, unlike Andrey Desyatnikov and Sean Armand who are unlikely to play until after the New Year. Vasily Karasev has been forced to tighten an already-short bench and treat each game with the utmost care.
Monday, October 22
Time: 7:00 PM (5:00 MSK)
Place: Molot Sports Palace, Perm, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport, VTB-League.com
PARMA: Perm had a chance to take a perfect record into the game with Khimki, but several mistakes down the stretch doomed Nikolajs Mazurs’ men vs. Enisey. PARMA will try to draw on its April game vs. Khimki for inspiration, when they lost by a measly three points as Codi Miller-McIntyre nearly sent the game to overtime.
Khimki: Though the season has only begun, Khimki must be tired already. Monday will be the team’s third game in six days. On Wednesday, Moscow Region lost to Fenerbahce despite Alexey Shved’s heroics, while on Friday they fell to Efes Anadolu, before flying to Perm. The visitors won’t have much time to recover or practice. Don’t be surprised if PARMA tries to take advantage by pushing the tempo and exploiting Khimki’s fatigue.
Time: 7:30 PM (7:30 MSK)
Place: USH CSKA, Moscow, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport, VTB-League.com
CSKA: Everything said above about Khimki could apply to the Army Men, though they have an extra day to rest after a EuroLeague game vs. Darussafaka, plus they don’t have to fly to Perm. Dimitris Itoudis commented on the challenging schedule following the game with Darussafaka. Even though his team won, Itoudis said CSKA lacked energy, which affected their shooting percentage.
Kalev: Of course, CSKA is the undisputed favorite entering the game. CSKA holds a 10-game winning streak vs. Kalev, winning by an average of 25 points per contest. Tallinn’s defense looks improved this season–the team is averaging 10.5 steals and 5.5 blocks per game, while Ivan Almeida likely wants to bounce back from a disappointing outing vs. Khimki.